I opened the closet. What would he like? Male professional, said the ad, seeking date with discreet, easy-going woman for fun, friendship, and more. The last one wanted an easy-going professional woman. Hence the skirt and blazer. Would that work here too? I pull them off their hangers and take off my pajama shorts and top. The skirt is tighter in the waist, the band unforgiving, I suck in and pull it right up against my ribs higher than it should go and it closes but not if I slouch. The blazer only closes at the top button, the flaps on either side of my stomach spread out like airplane wings. I adjust my breasts, grab them and yank them into the center line to forge cleavage. They look better but they still look strange.
If I straighten my back all the way up spine to ceiling I can get them to look like the perky small breasts of athletic heroines who shoot a bow and arrow in dystopian movies. Even then they get distracted by apples. When I stand up like that it’s harder to see that the left breast is bigger than the right. Substantially. My tendency to slouch to the left. My ribs stick out to their full extension when I straighten my spine, the anemic triangles on the massive bone foundation like two deflated party hats, the piercings that once made them interesting long removed. Better suited to a Sno-Cone holder than a hand. But my ribs are fantastic. Carved and solid, like tusks. They’ve made wearing bras impossible, the bands never wide enough, the cups dumbly huge.
Maybe he would think the ribcage was impressive, play the bones like a harp. Look, I would say, I brought you my skeleton. You can hear the heart bouncing in its cage. What price wouldn’t you pay for intimacy like that? You’re used to silicone globes, perfect-sphere worlds of capitalism and progress. But I’m bringing you sound. Knock at the peephole gates. Listen. I’ve brought you your echo. Appreciate your good fortune. Produce the tip jar. Because of me women will have more unattainable beauty standards. Now it will be all about tittyfucking sternums. Cock sliding down the smooth canyon, the protrusion of bones cradling it on either side, and underneath, the steady vibration of the heart, the only one on the market that doesn’t need charging. Me: midcentury, professional American male. You: discreet, easy-going woman with a Borean lung capacity, shy of heart need not apply.
But what if it got him too excited, and instead of stopping where the sign said stop he produced a chisel and cracked himself in to get at the beating heart? False advertising? Don’t show them anything you don’t want to give up? What were you thinking, teasing like that—show them the sound and expect it to stay in your chest, like an idiot? Did you at least remember to charge extra for medical costs? Not that you can do much about a fracture. Just get a couple extra ones in case of disaster. Try them on and see which one fits. That’s what the return policy is for.
Hands on my hipbones, pointy in the front and rounded on the sides, I turn my head to look at my ass. That’s what he would spend the most time looking at. It was flat and the skin was dry. It had pimples, a few scratched bloody. Not the pimples for squeezing but the red subterranean inflammations that straddle the divide between zit and rash, crops of them here and there like fairy circles, diseased-looking, awful, and there’s nothing that can be done about them, not ever, no matter how luminous the soul, no matter what kind of exfoliations, lotions, treatments, creams. Permanent chicken skin. Lest the ego become unmanageable. How the universe marks its cowards.